AAP vs Jung: Supreme Court refuses to stay HC verdict holding LG as administrative head

New Delhi :In a setback to Arvind Kejriwal- led government, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant an interim stay on the Delhi High Court verdict which has held that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head whose prior consent is needed in all administrative decisions.

The apex court, which sought response within six weeks from the Centre on seven appeals of AAP dispensation against the August 4 verdict of the High Court, also declined to stay the recent decision of LG Najeeb Jung to set up a three-member committee to scrutinise over 400 files and past orders of the elected city government.

“Every day there would be some order, we cannot pass orders on a daily basis,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana said when the LG’s recent decision to examine government files was referred to. “No stay, we will fix the matters for final hearing on November 15,” the bench said.

The bench, simultaneously, did not concur with preliminary objections of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the appeals needed to be dismissed at the threshold on several grounds including that instead of a Chief Secretary or a secretary, the pleas were supported by the affidavit of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodoia.

“This is against the rules of the business. The affidavit in the High Court was sworn by the Secretary, but here it is sworn by the Deputy CM. Just because you are the Deputy CM, you cannot flout the Rules. How can the SLP filed by NCT be maintainable? How can a minister represent a Union Territory,” Rohatgi said, adding “even assuming that he is competent to swear the affidavit, the decision to file a SLP is to be decided by the LG”.

The court, however, said it was an important issue where a decision from the apex court was needed. Rohatgi said it has been “unequivocally” held by a 9- judge bench that Delhi is a Union Territory. Indicating that it may refer the cases to a larger bench after hearing arguments, it said, “This is in our mind, but that will be decided at later stage after hearing the parties.”

Senior lawyer K K Venugopal, appearing for AAP government, said the Centre and LG Najeeb Jung, who enjoy a “master and servant” relationship, have “tied the hands of the elected government” and the refusal of public servants to sign the petition has created a situation where the Minister has to swear the affidavit.